One of the more popular sessions, judging by the number of people sitting on the floor and standing in the room, at this year’s PromaxBDA Station Summit was Battle of the Promo Superstars. It was the first of its kind at the summit and judging by the crowd, I predict it will be a continuing session.
The premise is interesting for those of us who have promoted TSRs — targeted special reports — special stories from news to promote during sweeps.
In the Battle of the Promo Superstars, five stations representing five different broadcast companies create five different promos, all from the same news story.
They get 48 hours and must use the material they have in-house.
What did they come up with? Which one worked best?
Five stations from five different broadcast companies doing five different promos for the same, identical news story.
They get 48 hours and must use the material they have in house.
What did they come up with? Which one worked best? Now, you can decide.
Welcome to the Battle of the Promo Superstars, one of the first sessions of its kind at this year’s PromaxBDA Station Summit at The Mirage in Las Vegas.
Moderated by David Baumann, a former station CSD in Detroit, Seattle and Minneapolis, and now marketing and creative director for Stephen Arnold Music, Battle of the Promo Superstars lined up creative services departments from Tegna, Scripps, Tribune, Hearst and Sinclair stations in a fun and creative competition to see what kind of creative approach they would each take to the same news story.
We’ve all seen stories like this, some call them TSRs, Targeted Special Reports, special stories from news during sweeps.
Then the folks in creative services create the promos that hopefully, increase viewership.
Here’s the story they all used. It’s from WCVB, the Hearst ABC affiliate in Boston.
And in each case, the stations came up with a 30-second promo, a :15, an ID and a Facebook promo.
Trying to decide which ones were the best is daunting. So what criteria did I use?
The goal of every TV station is to be the No. 1 choice for viewers when it comes to local news. News on most stations accounts for 50% of revenue. Local TV news ratings’ success is the benchmark by which creative services directors are ultimately measured.
So news ratings performance and how marketing may have played a role in that success became the criteria for what I consider the best Market Share columns of 2015.
KATV, the ABC affiliate in Little Rock, Ark., had an 18 share for its 5 a.m. news in May 2011. In November 2013, the station had a 31 share in households.
Promoting from within sends a message to everyone in the organization that if they work hard, grow and gain the respect of their co-workers and managers, then they can expect to be noticed and rewarded.
Such was the case for Leila Stilwell, the new marketing director at KGTV, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate in San Diego.
Stilwell is what I would call a classically trained manager. She started as a creative services assistant at her first station. When she came to San Diego and KGTV, she was a writer, editor and producer, winning Emmy Awards and nominations.
“She is the heart and soul of the creative services department,” said Joel Davis, WKTV’s station manager. “Now, she’s also the brains.”
“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to guide the marketing direction at KGTV 10News,” said Stilwell. “Broadcast television is changing at a rapid rate and that ignites the optimum environment to be creative, take risks and find new ways to connect our unparalleled, enterprise news content to San Diego consumers.”
“Leila Stillwell’s creative talents combined with her analytical mind made it hard to consider anyone outside of these four walls,” said Jeff Block, KGTV’s general manager.
“She is the type of person you want on your team and this is her time.”
Local TV news marketing is often drowning in sea of sameness.
At least that’s how Graeme Newell characterized it at a recent session attended by creative services directors. Newell is president of 602 Communications, a research and consulting company.
And in some markets, one could say the same thing about local TV news in general. To viewers, there’s little to differentiate one station’s newscast from another.
Local TV news marketers often struggle to find and then effectively market those differences to recruit news viewers.
Take weather for example.
The local TV weather forecast still researches as the main reason viewers watch local news. Stations look for meaningful advantages to make their weather department more watchable than the others.
Is it the personality of the weather forecaster? Is your meteorologist certified by the American Meteorologist Society? How much does that matter?
Is it his or her experience? Is it technology-driven — your Doppler is bigger than theirs? A 4-wheel drive weather lab, perhaps?
What about accuracy? What if you could say your weather forecasts are the most accurate? Would you market that?
“Our approach was having a third party come in,” says Stan Melton, creative services director at KGTV, the ABC affiliate in San Diego owned by Scripps, “and determine that what we put out for our viewers was more accurate than anybody else’s in town.”
“It shows that we have something that differentiates our weather from everyone else’s and that’s accuracy,” says Melton.
WeatheRate employees review the forecasts from TV stations. The forecasts are then fed into WeatheRate’s patented software that compares the forecasts with the actual observed weather conditions to determine which TV stations are the most accurate.
WeatheRate tracks high and low temperatures, sky cover, precipitation, snow accumulations, wind and fog as well as timing of severe weather.
WeatheRate then offers the stations with the most accurate weather forecast the opportunity to license their seal of approval for a year for a fee, based on market size.
This year in San Diego that distinction goes to KGTV. Last year, it was a KGTV competitor.
Does that matter from a branding perspective?
Not to Melton.
“We felt that was a value from a promotional perspective. We were going to find a better way to promote it, in our opinion.”
Fair enough. But what is the real advantage? Lots of stations tout their weather forecasting acumen with questionable, hard to substantiate claims.
“This is someone who’s impartial, doesn’t have a dog in this hunt, and is looking at everybody’s forecast and measuring the exact same thing.”
So now you’ve got a new brand name to add into your marketing lexicon, WeatheRate.
“We tried to elevate that brand to be the Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” says Melton.
“We wanted to make sure that when people see the WeatheRate logo, that it means that we are certified accurate.”
But isn’t the weather in San Diego always the same — sunny and nice? So how much does accuracy really matter to viewers there?
“This is not Oklahoma City, not Miami, or Fort Worth,” concedes Melton.
“The differences with the weather here is that we have these micro-climates around the region. I could be on the beach in the morning and in the afternoon, be in snow.”
And it helps to have an accurate weather forecast when packing for a day like that.
This morning, starting at 9, parents, students and fans everywhere of the Scripps National Spelling Bee can watch nearly 100 students from across San Diego County compete via live stream on Scripps-owned KGTV’s website, 10News.com.
Live coverage will also be carried on area cable channels on Cox and Time Warner.
The Spelling Bee is held at the San Diego Hall of Champions, and emceed by KGTV’s morning news anchors, Jason Martinez and Virginia Cha.
“The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a cornerstone of what we do as a company,” said Jeff Block, VP and divisional general manager of the E.W. Scripps Co.
“KGTV is proud to participate locally in America’s most successful and longest running educational program.”
San Diego has produced two Scripps National Spelling Bee Champions in the past decade.
In 2005, Anurag Kashyup successfully spelled appoggiatura. And in 2012, Snigdha Nandipati won the national title correctly spelling guetapens.
For those few who don’t know what these words mean, I googled them for you.
Appoggiatura — during the Renaissance and early Baroque musical periods, the appoggiatura was of moderate length, averaging one-third of the main note, and was more in the nature of a melodic than a harmonic ornament.
Guetapens — ambush, snare, trap, the act of concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise.
From left, Greg Louganis, KGTV’s Bill Griffith and Jason Martinez
Bill Griffith is retiring from KGTV, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate in San Diego, at the end of February. But he has 20 stops to make before that.
Griffith and the new KGTV morning and noon news anchor, Jason Martinez, are tooling all over town in the 36’ RV christened Bill’s Excellent Adventure to revisit Griffith’s twenty most memorable stories.
In one story, Olympic gold medal diver Greg Louganis showed up for a surprise reunion with Griffith. Louganis won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, the only male to sweep the diving events in consecutive Olympic Games.
Covering Louganis’ training for the Olympics was one of Griffith’s first assignment at KGTV.
To read more about Griffith’s RV farewell tour, click here.